After a wild ride weatherwise last week, things look to be settling down. There's a haze of green spreading through the woods and we're about to get into the really exciting part of the spring at last. Just for fun, test yourself on these plants that offer early spring interest and see which ones you know, and which you'd like to know. Start with the beauty above, 1) a seldom seen but rather easily grown woodlander. Its flowering is brief but exciting so when it's in bud, chill the wine and call your friends over. Answers at the end of the post!
2) From a vast tribe, this is the easiest species, though not usually seen in this color.
3) These little bottlebrushes emerge early from velvety buds and are sweetly scented, and the leaves of this shrub turn beautiful shades of red and orange in fall.
4) A handsome ornamental perennial for moist situations, but usually found in the vegetable garden.
5) Another moisture lover, this one a native. Self sows to make large colonies in time... perfect for stream margins, bogs or the edge of a pond.
6) A lively version of a common shrub, this one grows slowly and tolerates part shade, where the variegation sounds a bright note.
7) Sometimes a bit challenging to establish, but once this charmer finds a happy spot it will be with you for many years, and increase by offsets and seedlings.
8) Native shrub that now comes in many leaf colors including chartreuse, dark purple, and this one that starts out in shades of orange and coral, maturing to bronze tones for the rest of the summer.
9) An Asian plant fairly new in the trade, useful for foliar contrast among ferns, hostas and other shade plants. The glossy leaves are often flushed with pinkish red.
10) It's a mystery why this tough-as-nails, early flowering, non-invasive sweet pea relative is so little grown. Perfectly lovely under deciduous trees, gradually forming large beautiful clumps.
11) Exquisite color scheme of blood orange, olive and gold on this uncommonly planted bulb native to western Turkey.
12) Bog-dweller that unfurls super early, this plant actually generates enough internal heat to emerge through frozen soil. As bold as a Hosta when it finally reaches full expansion.
13) Very elegant little plant that grows from curious conical corms. This variety has great vigor in spite of its dainty appearance. Flowers early and then vanishes until the next spring, making it ideal to grow among late-emerging perennials.
14) Found in the Rocky Mountains, this striking conifer will grow well in our area and offers vivid golden new growth for up to six weeks in spring.
15) This plant, a native of alpine meadows, was once classed as an Anemone but now has another name. Comes in white, pink, violet or this (my favorite) dusky red. The exquisite blooms are followed by fluffy seedheads and a mound of handsome, ferny foliage.
ANSWERS: 1) Double Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex. 2) Cowslip Primrose, Primula veris 'Sunset Shades'. 3) Dwarf or Coastal Fothergilla, Fothergilla gardenii. 4) Rhubarb, Rheum rhabarbarum. 5) Marsh Marigold, Caltha palustris. 6) Variegated Japanese Yew, Taxus cuspidata 'Dwarf Bright Gold'. 7) Snake's Head Fritillary or Checkered Lily, Fritillaria meleagris. 8) Ninebark cultivar, Physocarpus opulifolius 'Coppertina'. 9) Crimson Fans, Mukdenia rossii 'Karasuba'. 10) Spring Vetchling, Lathyrus vernus. 11) Species Tulip, Tulipa orphanidea ssp. whittallii. 12) Skunk Cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus. 13) Dog-tooth Violet or Trout Lily, Erythronium x 'Pagoda'. 14) Lodgepole Pine cultivar, Pinus contorta 'Taylor's Sunburst'. 15) Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Rubra'.
NOW GRADE YOURSELF!
0-4 answers correct: You're on training wheels but I envy you... there's so much more in the world of plants and gardening for you to discover and explore!
5-9 answers correct: Bravo! You're quite knowledgeable and experienced... keep up the good work!
10-15 answers correct: Congratulations, you're a real plant nerd... do you want a job?
Welcome to Sempervivum, an opinionated, sometimes informed and completely unqualified journal of gardens, plants and plantings by artist-gardener Robert Clyde Anderson.